What To Know When Shopping For Health Insurance

By Consumers For Quality Care, on May 6, 2020

What To Know When Shopping For Health Insurance

Photo By Heidi de Marco/KHN

The coronavirus pandemic has not only sickened hundreds of thousands of Americans, it has directly or indirectly caused millions more to lose their jobs. Many of those newly unemployed have also lost the health insurance they had through their employer.

As the Associated Press reports, shopping for insurance can be a challenging task, especially during this pandemic, and there are many things consumers should be aware of before they begin.

An initial consideration to make when shopping for a new insurance plan is whether you have to shop at all. Many Americans may be eligible to switch to a spouse’s employer-sponsored plan, and others may choose to continue their existing benefits through COBRA. Other lower income people may be eligible to enroll in their state’s Medicaid program.

Before going with COBRA, consumers should be aware that it may come at a hefty price.

Did you know that your employer probably paid as much as 70 percent of the insurance premium? If not, you will quickly realize that when choosing to continue coverage under COBRA.

In that case, the laid-off employee will pay the entire monthly bill for coverage plus an administrative fee. That could cost more than $1,000 for a family plan.

If consumers elect to shop for a plan on the ACA marketplace, they should be aware that they may be eligible to purchase plans with income-based tax credits that will make them much more affordable.

If you are confused about navigating your various options, there are ways you can get help. Some companies and groups help people navigate the complicated process of purchasing health insurance for themselves. Consumers may also consult the federal government’s health insurance enrollment helpline at 1-800-318-2596.